Chapter 7 - Sep 1995
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Orem, USA - La Paz, Mexico - Orem, USA

May 1995 - September 1995


Well, it's now September and we're still here. However, we are planning to head south on September 26 and arrive back at the boat October 4th at the latest. I'll try to bring you up-to-date on what we've been doing this summer.

The reason that we came to Utah was to start a business. We did that. The company is called SpeechTel and it has kept us busy doing work-like stuff for the last four or five months. We have, however, managed to squeeze in a few fun things as well.

I took a hang gliding lesson with Brad. It was fun even though we never got more than about 10 feet off the ground. We did discover that it is incredibly hard work, both of us were stiff and sore for about a week afterwards. I keep meaning to go take another lesson, but never seem to have the energy and the money at the same moment!

Susan managed to get home to Victoria for a visit in June. She had a lot of fun, even managed to go sea kayaking at Long Beach. I better let her tell you about all of the exciting stuff she did.


It was a great trip to Victoria. I took the wonderful bargain airline (Southwest) to Seattle for $39 then hopped on the Victoria Line ferry from Seattle to Victoria. It was so good to be back on the ocean even if it was in a stink-pot (power boat). I had certainly missed the cedars and their wonderful aroma. My friends Helen and Debbie met me at the ferry and we went straight downtown to meet all the ‘girls’ for a fabulous dinner out. While I was in Victoria I got a chance to visit with everyone and a chance to try my hand at sea kayaking which I’ve always wanted to do. Bobbie and Helen were kind enough to introduce me to this sport by taking me out in the pouring rain to paddle madly from Sidney to James Island and back. I thought for sure I was going to have to trade in my arms for new ones that night. Despite the wet and dreary day I still had a great time and was looking forward to the camping/kayaking trip to Long Beach planned for the next weekend. That trip also started out with a lot of rain and perhaps we should have taken it as a sign. The camping on Long Beach was wet but fun. I haven’t been camping in years and I definitely cannot remember the last time I sat around a camp fire listening to ghost stories. The kayaking was also great. We started from Tofino and the weather gods were good enough to withhold the rain for the entire day until we returned. That has got to be some of the most beautiful country in the world. The next day signalled the last day of the trip and it was decided unanimously to forgo any more kayaking for a day at Long Beach. This is where things went wrong. One of our party was struck by a rampaging boulder while climbing one of the many rock hills just off the beach. This nasty boulder did some serious damage to Darren’s ankle and we had to rush him to the nearest hospital. Luckily it was only a few miles away in Tofino. It turned out to be a broken ankle and a cast was required. Not a great end to a great weekend. Unfortunately this wasn’t quite the end of it. On the drive home, the borrowed jeep that Bobbie, Helen and I were in, decide to blow its top. Literally! The hard, removable top of the jeep simply took flight and crashed to earth about a block behind us. Luckily we weren’t going very fast at the time and luckier still, there was no one behind us. We didn’t trust the roof to stay on so drove the rest of the way back with it in the back seat. It was a bit chilly but safer I’m sure. So ended a great mini vacation.

Before I turn this back over to Wayne, I want to tell you a little about the weather around here. We have had some pretty interesting stuff. When we arrived here in mid-April there was still a lot of snow in the mountains very close. It even snowed a few more times right into May. It was quite a shock after the temperatures we were used to. After that came the rain. Immense quantities of rain along with some spectacular electrical storms. When summer finally hit, it hit with a vengeance. Summer is typically hot and dry here and this one was no exception. Temperatures each day could be counted upon to be somewhere between 90° and 100°. It was sure nice to be in the basement suite then. We also had a freak wind storm with winds topping out at 95 mph a little ways north of here. The news featured shots of the dozens of flipped semi-trucks and motor homes on the I-15. Things are finally beginning to cool off here as fall approaches. The days are pleasantly warm (about 80° to 85°) with the nights cooling down to the 50’s and 60’s. Enough of the weather.

We’ve enjoyed the mountains here. We’ve even done a fair bit of hiking, most of it uphill it seems. Unfortunately the mountains cannot begin to replace the ocean for us. We’re suffering from ocean withdrawal and are counting the days until we return. It’s only a couple of weeks now so there is plenty to do before we leave. One of the things we’re doing is canning. Can you believe this of Wayne and me? We bought a pressure cooker and a really good book called “Stocking Up”. So far Wayne has canned chicken breasts and his home-made chili and I’ve tried my hand at pickled veggies combinations. We hope to can some nectarines and peaches, more pickles, and more meat. We’ll keep you posted when we finally consume these goods and tell you if we’re any good at it. Well enough from me, back to Wayne.


My Dad and Mom and brother (Gary) drove down here from Calgary for a short visit on the May long weekend. It was really good to see them and they brought our old car down as well. This was a welcome relief from borrowing cars, bumming rides and walking. We never really minded not having a car in Mexico, but it really is tough to get around here without one. Besides, people look at you funny here when you walk.

On the Canada Day long weekend (Fourth of July here) we decided to drive up to Calgary and see everyone there. It was a bit of an impromptu trip as we first thought of it at 8:00pm on Friday and were on our way at 9:00pm. We had a really nice time, the drive is picturesque and not too long (about sixteen hours). Also it was great to see friends and family in Calgary, most of whom we hadn’t seen for over a year. We also really enjoyed seeing Calgary in the summertime. Its been several years since we were there in the summer and it really is a beautiful city when the trees have leaves and the grass is green.

Our trip back to Orem was made interesting by the U.S. immigration service at Waterton Park crossing. They decided that we must be trying to get into the U.S. to work illegally and after an hour or so of questioning and the most thorough search that we have ever experienced they decided not to let us in. The nearest supervisor is at Sweetwater which is about 150 miles away. We headed for Sweetwater, with a stop at Lethbridge to have our bank fax statements for our accounts. We figured that at least we could prove that we didn’t need to work. When we arrived at the Sweetwater crossing, the supervisor couldn’t have been nicer. She barely glanced at our statements then said that she couldn’t understand why we had been turned away in the first place and let us in.

When we arrived in Orem, Brad mentioned that he had been turned away at the same crossing years ago. From his description we suspect it was the same guy so maybe it’s just how he gets his jollies. Anyway, if you’re driving down to the U.S., avoid the Glacier Park border crossing.

In late July, we decided that we couldn’t stand being away from our boat for so long so we went down to La Paz for a visit. Because we are feeling poor, we flew to San Diego ($39 each way), took the trolley to the Mexican border, then took a bus from there to La Paz. The bus was great, clean and modern with air conditioning, movies and a bathroom. It was a 22 hour trip though and we were very happy when we arrived. The boat was in perfect shape, no bugs, rats or storm damage but it was in desperate need of a wash down.

We had mail for Dennis and Judith from “JAD” and had arranged to meet up with Judith in La Paz. Their boat is in Puerto Escondido which is about 200 miles North, so Judith took a bus to La Paz as well. Judith invited us to spend the balance of our long weekend on their boat. We were very excited about her offer as we had never been to Puerto Escondido and we really wanted to visit with Dennis and Kathie and Jamie from “White Squall” who were also there. Besides “Day Dream” is in a marina in a city and we really prefer to be at anchor away from the cities.

So Judith, Susan and I took a bus up to Puerto Escondido (only five hours). The bus just stopped on the side of the highway near the bay and let us out, then we walked the mile or so to the water. We had a terrific time on “JAD” as their hospitality was incredible. It was really good to see our old friends again and besides those that we were expecting, we also ran into Carol and Greg from “Vagrant Lady”. We had last seen them just before Christmas in Cabo San Lucas.

This was an extremely short trip but we managed to cram a totally great time into only two days. While we were there we went diving for clams. Susan and I had not done this before and we really enjoyed it. They weren’t hard to get and after being steamed for a few minutes they are delicious with garlic butter. Dennis and I attempted to harvest fruit from a cactus. Speaking from experience, I am now strongly recommending that you do not try to harvest a cactus while wearing a bathing suit! These cactus are about 10 feet tall and have spines about 3 inches long. The fruit always grow just out of reach and are also very spiny. We poked at them with sticks and after nearly falling onto the cactus many times we would knock one off. They usually come hurtling down from overhead aimed straight at any bare skin that you happen to have. No one was critically injured during this operation and eventually we had ten or so, which we thought would make a nice dessert for the six of us. Each fruit was about the size of a large strawberry and liberally supplied with spines. Once back on the boat I got roped into removing the spines. I held the fruit on a fork and hacked at them with a knife and after losing about half of the fruit overboard I had spread most of the spines around “JAD’s” deck. After all of that we forgot to eat them before we left so we still don’t know if they were any good!

We did have a good reason for forgetting and that was the rest of the food. If you haven’t eaten lately, you had better put this down and go have a bite, otherwise you are likely to find yourself at an expensive seafood restaurant ordering something that you can’t afford. Judith and Kathie are very good cooks and Dennis and Jamie are very accomplished fishermen. Dennis and Jamie had recently caught some lobsters while diving. The lobster, combined with a recent catch of scallops and three different kinds of clams to make this really incredible pasta dish. Some of our other culinary delights while visiting were steamed clams on the half shell with garlic butter, Judith’s pickled squid, Judith’s pickled veggies and a fresh salad! Easily some of the best meals we’ve ever eaten.

We were very sad to leave when the time came but knowing that we would be back in October helped a little. We arrived at the bus station in Loreto to purchase our tickets and found that our bus was full. We explained in our best Spanish how badly we needed on this bus in order to meet our flight in San Diego. Between the bus drivers, the ticket agents and a few passengers, they found us one seat to start with and agreed to let me stand for the first 100 miles. In typical Mexican fashion, when the time came to board they somehow found us both seats. And then to top it all off, a kind gentleman travelling alone traded seats with Susan so that we could sit together even though he was giving up a much better seat. Once again Mexico shows off its great people charm.

In the middle of the night, the police boarded the bus checking for criminals. Not having shaved for four or five days apparently made me look fairly suspicious. Naturally they asked for my tourist visa which I had failed to get stamped in Tijuana and then hauled me (politely) off the bus for a little questioning. Fortunately, Susan, who didn’t have a stamped visa either realised that she would tend to make me look less sinister so she hopped off the bus as well and we apologised profusely for being such silly gringos. Finally they told us that they were supposed to charge us but if we promised not to do it again they would let us go. We earnestly promised and that was that! I hate to imagine what would have happened if a foreigners paperwork were not in order in Canada or the USA.

After shaving and changing into clean clothes, we made it through U.S. customs (whew). Considering our last U.S. immigration experience we were a little nervous but it was no problem. Since we had a few hours to spare, we went to visit some friends who run a yacht equipment shop in San Diego. While we were there we bumped into Chris and Susan from the yacht “Jenny Gordon”. We had met them in Zihuatanejo and had last seen them at Didi and Allen’s wedding. They had left their boat at anchor in Puerto Escondido and were planning to spend a few months visiting family and travelling through Canada and the U.S. Small world!

It’s hurricane season in Mexico now and we have been worrying a fair bit about “Day Dream”. We get the NOAA weather broadcast on our shortwave radio and so far we have had three near misses. The first, hurricane Flossy, passed about 110 miles from La Paz. This put us just outside of the danger zone but since you never know in advance exactly where they are going to go, we had a few sleepless nights. The second, Hurricane Henriette, was forecast to pass within 15 miles of La Paz with 110 mph winds. We decided that we couldn’t leave the boat alone at such a time, so I flew down to make sure it was OK. As it turned out, Henriette turned left and we never had more that 45 knots (about 55 mph) of wind but I was very happy to be there. Henriette did hit Cabo San Lucas squarely and the last I heard there was no water, telephones or electricity there, but no one had been killed. The most recent scare has been Hurricane Ismael which whizzed by our boat on the east side, straight up into the Sea of Cortez. Once again it was close. We’re growing more gray hairs by the day.

Well that seems like all the news that’s fit to print. We are leaving here on September 26th and looking forward to being back on the boat. We will drive to San Diego and do a little last minute boat shopping for us and some friends since we have a car to fill. Then it’s a few more days of driving down the Baja Peninsula to La Paz. We can hardly wait. We’ve missed the cruising life.